Public invited to Uncle Jimmy’s Pig Roast and Carnival April 28

Photo of Jim and Sharon Nieslanik

In the mid-1960s Jim and Sharon Nieslanik were among the land owners who donated the now-800 acres for Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley. Jim – affectionately known as “Uncle Jimmy” – and Sharon have donated a pig for a pig roast, as part of the free lunch, 50th program and carnival on April 28 to celebrate Colorado Mountain College’s 50th anniversary.

Imagine attending a college where every year, the rancher down the road donates one of his hogs for a free outdoor pig roast for students, faculty and staff right on campus. At Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley, a pig roast is an annual ritual.

And this year, everybody – community members, kids, longtime local residents, CMC alumni, former employees, new arrivals and business owners – is invited to Uncle Jimmy’s Pig Roast and Carnival on April 28 at 10:00 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley.

This year Colorado Mountain College is celebrating its 50th anniversary, with celebrations throughout the college’s 12,000-square-mile footprint. So in the Roaring Fork Valley – on the site of one of CMC’s two original campuses – current students, alumni, and past and current employees are welcoming the public to come enjoy a day learning about CMC’s history at a free program followed by a full luncheon and carnival.

Thanking local communities

The event is a gift back to the communities Colorado Mountain College serves, according to Heather Exby, vice president and campus dean for Spring Valley, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.

“We are all here at CMC, educating students, because of our community members,” said Exby. “We are all here because of you.”

The day starts at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium in the Summit Student Center, where college presenters will showcase the history of Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley, one of CMC’s first two campuses. David Delaplane, known as the father of Colorado Mountain College, is expected to attend.

“We’ll have a morning ceremony to honor and recognize alums, old friends, founders and honorary chairs, as well as celebrate our students and their future,” said Exby.

Honorary chairs of the event are Alpine Bank founder and Chairman Bob Young, in recognition of Alpine Bank’s and Colorado Mountain College’s overlapping years of service to the Western Slope; Jim and Connie Calaway, in recognition of the Calaways’ support of so many CMC endeavors, including numerous scholarships and cultural events; and Jane Larsen, in honor of her parents Paul and Virginia Lappala, and the family’s donation of land for the Lappala Center in Carbondale.

Uncle Jimmy goes way back

Photo of Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Campus under construction

Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley was carved out of ranch land, thanks to Jim and Sharon Nieslanik and their fellow Spring Valley ranching and land-owning neighbors. In the summer of 1967, crews were busy constructing classroom buildings and dormitories to be ready for the college’s Oct. 2, 1967, opening. Since then, the original buildings have been razed and replaced, and additions have been made, including the Jim and Connie Calaway Academic Center and the Quigley Library (named after another of the campus’s original land donors). Photo Aspen Historical Society, Mary Eshbaugh Hayes Collection

 The program will be followed by the pig roast with all the fixings at 11:30 a.m.

“We’ll have a delicious lunch that celebrates the sustainable partnership we have with our neighbor and one of our founding families, the Nieslaniks, with a pig roast,” Exby said.

Jim “Uncle Jimmy” Nieslanik’s family and Colorado Mountain College are connected since the college’s start. Along with the Quigleys and other Spring Valley ranchers and land owners, in 1966 the Nieslaniks donated land for one of the college’s first two campuses.

Over time 800 acres in total were donated in Spring Valley, which was originally called the West Campus. The East Campus, the other original campus, is now known as Colorado Mountain College Leadville.

Jim Nieslanik’s connection with the Spring Valley campus continued in 2012 when his niece, Mary McPhee, who was then general manager for Sodexo’s dining services at the campus, suggested to her uncle that he pick up the edible compost from the cafeteria to feed his hogs. To show his gratitude, every year, Uncle Jimmy donates a hog for a pig roast for CMC students, faculty and staff.

This year, after lunch, which will include a 50th anniversary cake courtesy of Sodexo, the fun will continue at an on-site carnival with an obstacle course, adult-sized tricycles, face painting and more.

The celebration will be held at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley at 3000 County Road 114, Glenwood Springs. Visit or call 945-7481 for more information and to RSVP. RSVPs are strongly encouraged.

Colorado Mountain College is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2017, thanks to presenting sponsors Alpine Bank, Jim and Connie Calaway, Holy Cross Energy (a Touchstone Energy Cooperative), Morgridge Family Foundation and Sodexo.

Support is also being provided by Atlantic Aviation; Terra Energy; Mountain Temp Services, LLC; Sopris Engineering; Chevron; Grand River Health; FCI Constructors; ObermeyerWood Investment Counsel; Marble Distilling Company; Mountain Town Coffee and Premier Party Rentals.